$1.4b aged care budget shortfall revealed
Tens of thousands of older people who need help to stay at home will miss out because a budget funding increase is $1.4 billion short of what is required.
The revelation came as aged care providers, nurses and pensioners welcomed the record $17.7 billion funding injection for aged care but agreed it was not enough to fix the neglect of our elderly.
A detailed analysis by the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants' Association reveals the 100,000-long waiting list for home care packages won't be eliminated by extra funding in the budget.
The government's own data shows in December there were 96,859 people waiting for a home care package but the budget will fund only 40,000 new places next financial year and a further 40,000 places from July 2022.
Each of the four levels of home package care has a set amount of funding.
The lowest level 1 package is annual subsidy of $8900 a year, level 2 is $15,700 a year, level 3 is $34,200 a year and level 4 provides $51,900 a year.
The association dissected government data showing how many people were waiting for a package or a package upgrade at each level to determine the amount of funding required was $7.9 billion.
To fund the additional 80,000 packages in the budget the Government has allocated only $6.5 billion over four years.
"That's a shortfall of $1.4 billion," Association spokesman Paul Versteege said.
The government's two previous announcements about increased home care places - 10,000 in 2018-2019 and 12,000 in 2019-2020 - were also deceptive because there also wasn't enough money to deliver the care, Mr Versteege said.
It appeared these places were never actually delivered because the government's own figures showed there were 22,102 home care packages allocated but not "active", CPSA spokesman Paul Versteege told News Corp.
"To all intents and purposes they are there but no-one can access them, it's a mystery", he said.
"With the Budget announcement of 80,000 packages, the number of inactive 'allocated' packages has now risen to 102,102 packages," he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the Home Care Package wait list was at 96,859 in December last year and and this is reducing.
"By July 2021, it is expected that there will be around 80,000 people on the NPS waiting for a package at their approved level. This is a result of the Government's previous significant investments which are still flowing into the system," the spokesperson said.
"In total the 80,000 additional packages are enough to ensure people currently waiting for a package will get access to the care they are assessed as needing," the Department said.
"All packages are fully costed, and all packages that have been announced have been or are being delivered within the timeframes announced by the Government," the spokesperson said.
National Senior's chief Ian Henshke said while the home care funding increase was "a good start … once again it's the people needing the highest level of home care who are missing out".
The Nursing and Midwifery Federation welcomed a new guarantee that a nurse be on site at nursing homes 16 hours a day but want that increased to 24 hours a day.
Federal secretary Annie Butler said the 15 per cent lower pay nurses get for working in aged care must be eliminated.
A case is currently before the Fair Work Commission to raise the pay of all aged care workers.
Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) spokesman Sean Rooney told News Corp the extra budget funding would not be enough to cover any wage rises.
Transparency was also needed about how aged care providers spend a new $10 per resident per day funding increase, Ms Butler said.
"It has no strings attached, we don't know whether that money goes to more food, better food more supplies more resources, more staff," she said.
Aged care providers welcomed the $7.8 billion they received to improve the level of care in residential aged care homes.
"What we're now looking at is a system that will deliver a lot more care and support and a really holistic care way," Mr Rooney told News Corp.
"It signals a commitment, that gives us hope and ambition for a better aged care system and the heavy lifting begins now."
Tuesday's unprecedented $17.7 billion budgetary commitment to the sector, followed the Aged Care Royal Commission's findings of a shameful neglect of elderly nursing home residents.
Health Minster Greg Hunt said the reforms would "deliver respect, care and dignity to our senior Australians who built our nation".
The budget funded 80,000 new home care packages over the next two years that will go a long way to help clear the waitlist of 102,000 elderly Australians who need help to stay in their own homes.
These packages will cost $7.5 billion and 40,000 will be released in 2021-22 and 40,000 in 2022-23.
The Royal Commission shocked the nation when it exposed how tens of thousands of elderly Australians were being sexually and physically abused, starved and left with maggot-infested wounds in aged care homes.
To clean up the shambolic system from October next year nursing home residents will be guaranteed a mandated average 200 minutes of care per resident per day including 40 minutes with registered nurse.
Some people who need less care won't get the full 200 minutes while higher needs residents will get more.
Two thirds of aged care providers are operating at a loss and to fix the problem the government will pay them an additional $10 per resident per day from July this year injecting an extra $3.2 billion into the sector.
In return aged care providers will for the first time have to provide detailed reports on how they spend their taxpayer funding on items like catering, linen, cleaning, incontinence aids and medication and they will have to log how many minutes of care is provided at each facility.
It will be mandated that every facility has a registered nurse on site 16 hours a day but the Health Department was unable to outline how or even whether aged care facilities would be penalised if they failed to meet mandated minutes of care or the nurse requirement.
More than 33,000 new training places for personal carers will be funded and nurses will be paid retention bonuses of up to $3700 per year to keep working in the sector and with the same employer for 12 months at a time as the government tries to expand the workforce.
To help those caring for ageing relatives with dementia and other health problems at home, the government will fund an extra 8400 respite care beds.
Elderly people who have home care packages but can't find people to shower them or cleaners or gardeners will get help form 500 care finders.
Doctors will be offered financial incentives which could earn them more than $10,000 per year if they make more than 180 visits to facilities on top of the flagfall fee and normal Medicare rebates.
From 2023 the aged care act will be completely rewritten to be focused on residents rights and a new Australian National Aged Care Classification system will deliver fairer funding arrangements.
To clean up the shocking neglect in aged care there will be an extra 1500 site audits in 2021-22, the serious incident response team will be expanded and $67.5 million will be spent on dementia management.
A new star rating system will help identify quality aged care providers.
Aged care providers will be pleased about the $10 per resident per day funding increase but nurses unions will be disappointed there is no mandated nurse to resident ration included in the reforms.
The government accepted or accepted in principle 126 of the Royal commission's 148 recommendations, it rejected six that related to introducing new taxes or levies to fund the reforms, 12 were subject to further consideration.
Mr Hunt said the changes would be funded from general revenue.
Council on The Ageing spokesman Ian Yates said the response to aged care was unprecedented.
He said the waitlist for home care packages would be eradicated by the end of 2022.
He warned workforce shortages remained an issue, especially with international borders closed.
"We think this is a very good start to totally transform the aged care system," Mr Yates said.
The Health Services Union's national president, Gerard Hayes, was not as impressed, saying the federal government's aged care commitments fell short.
"Aged care has been in chronic crisis for years and this funding package won't change that. This barely makes up for the $10 billion worth of cuts that have been inflicted over the last eight years," Mr Hayes said.
"For carers, therapists and support workers there is no commitment to permanent, better paid jobs. Clearly, the Government's plan is to continue exploiting the goodwill of an insecure, underpaid workforce of women.
"To properly attract and retain a dedicated workforce, the Government must commit to paying aged care workers more than $21 an hour. It had a chance to do that tonight and it failed.
NDIS HIT BY BLOWOUT
THE cost of the NDIS has blown out by $13.2 billion as payments per participant grow by 12.5 per cent year, the budget revealed - but there was no detail on planned reforms
The government is trialling controversial changes that would see participants have to undergo an independent assessment of their packages.
The government claims it will make the scheme fairer but disability advocates claim it will see people with no personal knowledge of a person's individual needs slot them into unsuitable cookie-cutter care programs.
Prime Minster Scott Mr Morrison used a pre-budget speech to warn the scheme was facing major sustainability pressures as wage bills and costs increase more than was ever expected.
The scheme has 430,000 participants and is forecast to reach 530,000 participants in the coming years.
New Social Services Minister Linda Reynolds has put the rollout of independent assessments on hold while the trial of the first 4000 of the checks is analysed and state premiers are consulted on the changes.
Originally published as $1.4b aged care budget shortfall revealed